Fernandina Beach votes in favor of personal choice on face coverings

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Commissioners in Fernandina Beach on Tuesday voted in favor of allowing people to wear face coverings in public based on personal choice.

The vote was 4-1 in favor. Commissioner Chip Ross was the “no” vote.

“I think that we’re being premature, and I think it would be smarter to stay the course and keep doing things that are keeping many of us out of harm,” Ross said of his decision.

Before addressing the ordinance, the commissioners discussed that Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed an executive order that will suspend all COVID-19 emergency orders issued by local governments in Florida. DeSantis signed the order to bridge the gap before a law that accomplishes the same goal goes into effect on July 1.

It came up during the debate that more visitors are making their way to Fernandina Beach, and fewer and fewer of them appear to be masking up.

After the discussion, the city commission changed the wording of its mask ordinance from “mandatory” to “optional and personal choice” when it comes to face coverings.

“To continue the mandate would be divisive and I don’t believe it really is effective as it could be,” Vice Mayor Len Kreger said. “At this point and time, and I’ve said this before, it is a personal responsibility.”

After the vote, the commissioners in favor took their masks off. Ross continued to wear his.


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